Middle East

Iraqi forces say defenses, civilians hamper Mosul advance

  • Men are held by Iraqi national security agents, to be interrogated at a checkpoint, as oil fields burn in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Islamic State fighters launch counterattacks in the thin strip of territory Iraqi special forces have recaptured in eastern Mosul, highlighting the challenges ahead as the battle moves into more densely populated neighborhoods where coalition air power must be used more selectively. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

    Men are held by Iraqi national security agents, to be interrogated at a checkpoint, as oil fields burn in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Islamic State fighters launch counterattacks in the thin strip of territory Iraqi special forces have recaptured in eastern Mosul, highlighting the challenges ahead as the battle moves into more densely populated neighborhoods where coalition air power must be used more selectively. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  (The Associated Press)

  • This satellite image taken Oct. 31, 2016, shows the Islamic State group's defensive line in southern Mosul, Iraq. New satellite images show that Islamic State militants in Mosul have set up daunting defenses designed to bog down advancing forces. The images taken Monday and made public by Saturday by Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor, show rows of concrete barricades, earthen berms and rubble blocking key routes leading to the core of the city. (Courtesy of Stratfor.com | Airbus via AP)

    This satellite image taken Oct. 31, 2016, shows the Islamic State group's defensive line in southern Mosul, Iraq. New satellite images show that Islamic State militants in Mosul have set up daunting defenses designed to bog down advancing forces. The images taken Monday and made public by Saturday by Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor, show rows of concrete barricades, earthen berms and rubble blocking key routes leading to the core of the city. (Courtesy of Stratfor.com | Airbus via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Map shows military advance into Mosul, Iraq.; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;

    Map shows military advance into Mosul, Iraq.; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;  (The Associated Press)

Iraq's special forces say they are still struggling to clear neighborhoods retaken from the Islamic State group along Mosul's eastern edge.

Lt. Col. Muhanad al-Timimi says Sunday that elaborate defenses built by IS and the presence of civilians have slowed progress.

The civilians make it more difficult for Iraqi commanders on the ground to get requests for U.S.-led coalition air strikes cleared. Iraq's special forces are some of the country's best troops, but they largely rely on air support.

Iraqi forces first entered the eastern edge of Mosul on Tuesday. On Friday, forces began pushing into Mosul proper, but so far have only advanced into the city just over a kilometer (mile). On the city's southern front Iraqi forces are still some 20 kilometers from the city center.